Jeannie could not be more proud of her accomplishments.
She considers them proof of her determination to overcome obstacles and indisputable evidence of the difference that a caring community can make in someone’s life.
Her story is powerful because her success was born from a very rough road. She had been homeless more than once. She had been fighting the ill effects of a bad relationship and unfortunate addictions.
Homelessness is a serious issue and requires very focused attention. Jeannie and her children were in need of serious help a few years ago.
Picking up the pieces
Thankfully, Jeannie did not let her setbacks define her. Rather, each and every time she persevered and tried harder. Three years ago she arrived at Room at the Inn, where she says the structure of the program and the love she received finally led to her piecing her life back together.
“I am a survivor,” Jeannie, 49, says with a smile on her face. “I have failed often in my life. I have fallen on my face so many times. But now I am a very strong woman and I owe it to Room at the Inn.”
All clients who become residents of Room at the Inn complete a self-assessment exercise, in which they identify the top factors contributing to their homelessness. Then, staff members work with them to overcome each barrier.
“I just did what I had to do,” Jeannie testifies. “I listened and obeyed, and that’s how I was able to get through the program.”
Another key factor in the program structure of Room at the Inn is the shelter’s partnership with dozens of congregations throughout the St. Louis area. Together, they represent a variety of faith traditions. Every night, these “Night Sites” pick up our clients from our day shelter and open their doors and their hearts to the homeless. Volunteers prepare warm meals and set up sleeping areas for each of our clients.
But our Night Sites offer more than just a bed for the night. They offer compassion, support and a caring environment.
“To see the love and the care coming from these strangers helped me tremendously,” Jeannie says. “They never judged us. They always treated us like we were guests – like we mattered.”
This care and support helps clients realize their self-worth and value.
“Sometimes we are our worst enemy,” Jeannie reflects. “We beat ourselves up for our lives. Room at the
Inn helps us rebuild self-respect. Sometimes, self-respect was all I carried, all I had, even when I had nothing material. That’s what kept me strong.”
We have found that this self-respect and self-worth is especially important as our clients pursue new jobs and a stable income.
Room at the Inn’s Employment Readiness Program helps clients realize their true value, while educating them on how to regain employment.
Jeannie recounts that she was computer illiterate before coming to Room at the Inn. With the help of dedicated staff members and volunteers, Jeannie learned how to build a resume, draft cover letters and submit job applications online.
She is now employed in an assisted living facility and pursuing her Certified Nursing Assistant certification in college.
“They helped me put together this flash drive with all of my job information,” Jeannie says. “Do you know, that flash drive is what got me the job I have today? If I hadn’t been at Room at the Inn and taken advantage of that computer lab, I wouldn’t have the job I have today. I carry that flash drive everywhere.”
Today, three years after coming to Room at the Inn, Jeannie has moved into her own house and wishes to help others.
“I want to help others in a similar situation like myself because I know what it took for me to make changes,” she adds. “It’s love, compassion and structure.”
The difference is you
You too can help the homeless in our community, and create more success stories like Jeannie’s. A contribution of $35 can help clients with transportation costs incurred to get to and from employment interviews. That same amount can also be used to help feed a family of three in shelter for a week.
A gift in any amount will help us continue to provide shelter, housing and employment assistance to approximately 200 individuals each year – the majority of whom are women and children. I am hopeful you will generously respond to our appeal. Homelessness is a big issue, but often it is the little things that make the difference in the lives our clients. With your support, you will be making that difference.
Thank you for taking the time to read Jeannie’s story of courage and survival, and for giving our clients a reason to believe in their future and purpose.